HOPE aims to "improve access to the vast amount of highly significant but scattered digital collections on social history in Europe, by creating a digital library on social history." To accomplish this goal, HOPE has developed a social history metadata harvester, the HOPE Aggregator, to collect and store descriptive metadata along with previews/thumbnails and links back to digital objects available through local sites. With this, HOPE sets out a model for dissemination in which the institutional website no longer holds pride of place. As users increasingly flock around Google-type search and discover services, HOPE proposes to meet them there.
In order to address a general lack of interoperability across social history collection data and services, HOPE has created the HOPE Common Metadata Structure—a structured set of elements to accommodate descriptive, administrative, and structural metadata about social history collections. The HOPE Common Metadata Structure serves to ensure semantic interoperability of data in the HOPE Aggregator with targeted discovery services, while at the same time encouraging HOPE content providers to use metadata standards for the creation, encoding, and exchange of metadata and reducing dependencies on system architectures at different levels in the HOPE system. This has enabled the creation of a coherent set of material, known in HOPE as the HOPE Social History Resource.
In HOPE, the Aggregator has an important role in the collection, harmonization, and dissemination of the HOPE metadata. In the process, the HOPE Aggregator will also act as a sort of repository for the HOPE metadata. However, it is important to note that the HOPE Aggregator is not conceived as a fully-fledged collection management system. The HOPE Common Metadata Structure does not accommodate system metadata on the creation, maintenance, and integrity of the descriptive records, nor administrative metadata about the acquisition, condition, and conservation of the original materials. Instead, the HOPE Common Metadata Structure serves as a switchboard or pivot between the local systems, which are responsible for managing and preserving the materials and corresponding metadata, and a set of discovery services or web portals, which facilitate the dissemination of the metadata as a fully-integrated and coherent resource.
The following sections offer an analysis of the HOPE Common Metadata Structure, assessing its strengths and weaknesses on a range of issues important to both the designated community and social history institutions: representing the different domains, supporting multilingual description, and structuring compound objects. The final sections look beyond the Common Metadata Structure to HOPE's budding harmonization and enrichment efforts, suggesting that HOPE's future efforts should focus here.